Zika did not stop taking control of the United States. On the contrary, the warm winter spared the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes from a sure death. The high temperatures also allowed them to continue to bite people. This species of flies is the perfect carrier of the virus. It can cause life-threatening congenital disabilities. These are usually brain malformations that impair the natural evolution of the intellectual faculties. Throughout the cold season, the virus gave away its presence mostly in South Texas. This is why scientists continue their work of discovering ways to bring the Zika outbreak to an end.
Scientists Want to Stop the Virus Infecting a Fetus through Placenta
As of recently, the focus of scientists when it comes to Zika outbreak was redirected to one segment of its development only. Researchers want to find a way to halt the infection from spreading from the mother’s placenta to her fetus. However, it is a hard task to deliver safe drugs to the market for pregnant women. This is why scientists have to offer more attention than usual to this matter.
To stop the Zika virus from harming the fetus while it is present in the mother’s system, scientists had to discover what kind of infection it really is. Thus, they started off from just a hunch. They proceeded to experiment whether Zika virus spreads in the system the same way its cousin the dengue fever does. The latter is a pathogenic flavivirus. It attacks one sort of proteins only called GAGs. It turned out that the Zika virus spreads its RNA or DNA into the same kind of cell.
A New Drug Will Act as a Decoy to End Zika Outbreak Affecting Human Cells
The main author of the research, So Young Kim, started to compare the way several flaviviruses bind to their favorite sugars. Observing similarities between well-known flaviviruses and Zika, the scientist proceeded to understand how Zika hijacked a series of GAGs. The focus was on the proteins that are located in human placental cells.
Based on her collected data, Kim came up with a solution to eradicate the Zika outbreak. The scientist intends to develop a serum filled with the favorite GAGs for the virus. Once the serum enters the system of a pregnant woman, it will act as a decoy. The Zika virus is going to be attracted solely by these new GAGs and will no longer show interest in human cells.
For the moment, this new solution has to go through a too long validation procedure to be in time for summer births. The only viable weapon for the time being against Zika outbreak is mosquito control. Even if this new drug enters the market, it can prove to be useful as a last resort when mothers refuse vaccines that are currently in development.
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